France.

WELCOME TO EUROPEParis, France.  France is the largest country in Western Europe.  We rented an apartment in Paris for 9 days.  We originally were staying 6 but added more days because we LOVED IT HERE. 

Fun Facts: Paris facts: the most visited city

In 2013, 47 million tourists visited Paris and the Paris region, including Disneyland Paris and Versailles. Paris remains year after year the most visited city in the world ahead of London and New York City.

During WWII, when Hitler visited Paris, the French cut the lift cables on the Eiffel Tower so that Hitler would have to climb the steps if he wanted to reach the top.
Gustave Eiffel (1832-1923), a French engineer who designed the famous tower in Paris, which is named after him. He also designed the Statue of Liberty which stands in New York’s harbor.
 

Winter is a great time to come here because NO CROWDS anywhere. There is so many things to see. I will start with the thing everyone knows about (at least in pictures). THE EIFFEL TOWER:

FUN FACTS:  One of the worlds most recognizable icons. It was completed on March 31, 1889 and was the tallest man made monument at the time.  It was built for the Worlds fair.  There are 1,665 stairs leading to the top.  There are replica’s of the Eiffel Tower all over the world (we saw the one in Las Vegas).

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The tower sways 2-3″ in the wind. Mr. Gustaf Eiffel, designed the tower, had an apartment on the third floor.  There are 20,000 light bulbs lighting it up at night.  There was a race to see who can climb the stairs the fastest.  The tower is repainted every 7 years.

We visited on a rainy day but still went up top. It was foggy when we went and were only able to go mid way up.  I did not expect it to be as big as it was.  I thought this would be an “over rated” tourist trap, but it was actually pretty cool to see up close.IMG_3972.IMG_2377IMG_3340IMG_3734

On our walks around the city we crossed over  the Pont Neuf (New Bridge) which is actually the oldest bridge in the city (odd name for a bridge) but it was nice. It was built in 1854.  It has an “N” on it marking Napoleon’s Ruling. You see that a lot on certain buildings in Paris.  IMG_3179It crosses the Siene River and goes to an island in the river (Isle de la Citi) which has parks and the Notre Dame Cathedral on it.  The outside of the Cathedral looks very old and has tons of carvings on the entire building.  My favorite were the “gargoyles” that surround the upper level of Notre Dame.  They were built to scare away spirits and some look pretty creepy. I think they look like a combination of a bat and a dog.    IMG_3193IMG_3209IMG_3199IMG_3201Notre Dame is a  major tourist attraction but it is still used as a regular church, they  hold mass here regularly. We went on a short river cruise on the Siene River which past many of the sights in Paris and also some neighborhoods.  It was an hour long.

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The LOUVRE MUSEUM:   The Louvre is hard to put into a short explanation. It is a gigantic museum that houses so many works of art it would take 2 months to see EVERYTHING.  We got a 2 day pass and I will just post some highlights.  My dad took hundreds of photos so if you want to see them ask him!  We had an “audio guide” to help us learn about the art.  It is a device where you punch in the number of the artwork and it tells you some facts about the artist, its history, and meaning and historical significance.  We all liked learning about the art this way.  If my Art teacher is reading this she would love to see the Louvre. First off, the outside of the museum is a piece of Artwork in itself. The archeteture is amazing. It is the biggest museum in the world.  One hallway in the Louvre is half a mile long. We got a 2 day pass. You have to plan you day right. We put all of our coats in the free lockers and brought lunch with us to eat. We were lucky that it wasn’t crowded. We hear in the summer lines are 2 hours long just to get in. We practically had all the exhibits with little amount of people in them. That was great.  There is tons of history about the building itself. I watched a great documentary about it.  It started off as a Palace, even Napoleon lived here. Later on another Palace was built close by, and the then current King built a wall connecting the 2 Palaces. You can actually see the  “N” for Napoleon and the “L” for King Louis XIV on different parts of the outside of the buildings. Very cool. This is the museum from aerial view.

Le Louvre - aerial view

IMG_3575IMG_3656IMG_3609IMG_3670We liked walking on the outside just as much as the inside. IMG_3660IMG_3653

Fun Fact: The Louvre’s galleries are displayed across 652,300 square feet – which is nearly 15 acres! The galleries contain approximately 7,500 paintings, and 66% of them were created by French artists.

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THE SCULPTURES:

inside louvreThis was just one of the many galleries of sculptures.   The amazing statues of Greek and Roman gods placed in beautiful rooms.  Here are just a few photos of the hundreds of amazing sculptures.  We all loved these works of art.. IMG_3452IMG_3398Nike, the winged goddess.  this is my favorite statue of the Louvre. This was originally on a ship as the bow statue. they cant find the head:) mabey it sank in the water or was stolen. Greek and Roman gods! I saw Zues, Posidion, Hades, Aphrodite, Herculise, Artimis and lots more.  I found it weird that a lot of the statues were naked. I guess in the time that they were made, wearing your birthday suit was the style,

IMG_3539IMG_4028Sawyer and I are big fans of the “Percy Jackson” series (we’ve read all of them) and all the Gods they talk about are sculpted here. IMG_3373IMG_3360IMG_3362I would take notes to remember the important details for my journal.

IMG_3346This is the Venus De Milo.  Very famous because of the year it was made and how early this technique was used and how it inspired many other sculpters.  It was also found buried in a field. (still looking for the arms….) How cool that there were no crowds here.IMG_2326 (1)There were marble and bronze statues.  This statue of slaves represented a French Battle victory. Each slave is from 4 different countries. It originally had a fountain in the middle and was outside. It is huge and very detailed.

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Now the Paintings: Just a fraction of them.IMG_3414AIMG_3433This painting is called “The wedding at Cana”

Fun Fact:  The Wedding at Cana is a massive oil painting by the late-Renaissance or Mannerist Italian painter Paolo Veronese. It is on display in the Musée du Louvre in Paris, where it is the largest painting in that museum’s collection.

It is so big we couldn’t even fit it all in the picture.  It is actually in the same room as the “Mona Lisa” which I will wright about. The wedding  picture is HUGE! In fact it is so big, it is impossible to move it. They would have to break a lot of walls and it would be to heavy to carry. The painting was brought here in 3 pieces. I liked the art work of “The wedding at Cana”.   Here it is in  more detail.IMG_3985

The painting above is of Napoleon crowning Josephine, his wife.  In the photo there is the French Royal family and all of Napoleon’s sisters. It is called the “Coronation of Emperor Napoleon I.”  See original image

Fun Fact:  Napoleon  ordered the painter, Jacques-Louis David, to include his mother (seated on a chair) even though she wasn’t there. She didn’t approve of Josephine.

Below is the painting of a sinking ship. The ship was called The Medusa and the men in the boat have gone days without eating and in the picture they were calling out for help.

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IMG_4043IMG_4006There were so many wonderful works of art here. These were talented artists of the day. We enjoyed listening to the audio about the paintings.  I learned a lot. IMG_2295 (1) IMG_3420This is the one and only Mona Lisa.  Painted By Leonardo Da Vinchi.  It is so tiny! The Mona Lisa is good but I don’t see why its so great .  I think a lot of other pictures look better and have better art work and detail. I mean, I cant even tell what the background is supposed to be! It is not that interesting to me compared to the other paintings.  It is famous because it is the first picture with the person smiling and having posture toward the looker. You couldn’t really see the Mona Lisa that well because you had to stand away from it, and it was in a glass case, but here is a picture taken from the internet of a closer look. I think the mona lisa is over-rated. See adjacent text.

IMG_4004Just walking the halls were cool. That is me sitting in the round chair. Just look at the art work !!!!

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IMG_3517The Palace Apartments : Where Emperors and Kings like Napoleon and his wife once lived. Also King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette lived here too.

Fun Fact: Napoléon Bonaparte was a French military and political leader who rose to prominence during the French Revolution and led several successful campaigns during the Revolutionary Wars.

King Louis XVI: was the last King of France. He was forced to marry Marie Antoinette at age 15 and became King at age 20. There is a lot of interesting History about this couple.

IMG_3513The apartments were very fancy. Even  though they were old fashion, I still liked them. All the rooms had high ceilings and the walls were all painted. The picture shows sawyer and  I standing in what once was the meeting room of the palace.  This is where they had ball room dances and met other leaders from other nations. They had important meetings in this room also. IMG_3524IMG_3522This is the dining room where all of the Royal family ate, especially while hosting dinners for important people. Did you know that the Royal French meals consisted of 4 different courses not counting desert. The Royal family had tons of servants that cooked ENORMAS amounts of food for them.  They ate it within 1 hour and 15 minutes at the most! You would think that a meal so big would take hours, but everyone ate fast because the servants would come and clear your dish even if you weren’t done. The table was big and could fit over 40 people! (this is one of the reasons that the French empire declined, they were using the money for stuff like this).

In the apartments, I also saw furniture that they sat on and tools they used like plates,cups,ect…  I liked seeing the apartments and it is so cool to think that I was in the same spot as all the other Kings and leaders.

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IMG_3483IMG_4061The Louvre has some foreign art sections and this is us in the Egypt part. I liked seeing the hieroglyphics carved into rock.

Below, is a picture of us with an Easter Island Maoi head. Mom and Dad have been to Easter Island and they say that it is 3 times as big, because they have a body and a head piece on top of the head.   One day I will go here and see the real ones that are still there. IMG_4009aIMG_3392 This is just one of the many rooms in the louvre with a painted celing. I liked the gold on the walls.

There is a lot of big fancy doorways here…IMG_3389I really loved seeing all the different art works in the Louvre.  A lot of the paintings had half-naked people in them and most of them were either of religious origin or of famines and people dying.  All the art was great and the artists were very talented.  The people in the paintings and sculptures looked so real and life like.  It was amazing that people can paint and sculpt  that way.

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MONT-SAINT-MICHEL

Mont Saint Michel was very interesting. We took a car to get here and it was about a 3 hour car drive from Paris.  Mont-Saint-Michel was built on an island in the 7th century.  So it is very old.

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FUN FACT- it is called Mont Saint Michel because a guy named Michel had a vision to build a monestary (a place where you learn how to become a priest or nun) on an island. So he built a church and a little town on the island.

From a distance, Mont-Saint-Michel looks like a castle. It sort of looks like the castle from the movie “tangled” or “frozen.” Mont Saint Michel is a World Heritage Site and that means people are not allow to change the way it looks.  The same buildings are there  now that there were in the 7th century.  Pretty cool! IMG_3770 It really reminds me of an ancient kingdom because there was a draw bridge with an iron gate that could come down.  All the houses were very small and tiny. Even though you cant change the buildings, you are allowed to change what to sell. 200 years ago Mont-Saint_Michel would have had a black smith, a hat maker, a general store ect… but now it has souviner shops for tourist, restarunts, and a couple of hotels. the streets are very skinny and narrow and there are some passage ways leading to houses. It is a small village and easy to find your way around.

The church is in the center of Mount-Saint-Michel. From the top there is amazing views of the ocean and land. There were lots of different rooms in the monestary for different purposes.  At one point in time they used some of the rooms for a prison.  I liked the prison. A prision cell of the old days would be dark, empty and cold. Now a days the prisons have tvs, books, a weight room and you get your own cell, 3 meals a day and you can hang out with other prisoners. Back then no one really cared how the prisioners felt so they just threw them into a dark room with lots of other people and barly gave them any food. Skeleton bones were piled next to the walls up the ceiling! We saw where the bones were.

The prison room also had a huge wheel in it. I learned that the prisoners had to walk in  the wheel to make it spin (like a hamster) in order to get food. The wheel was used for pushing up water or supplies to higher levels.  picture…You can see it in the picture below..

I also saw lots of rooms to pray and an area where the priest and nuns studied. IMG_3767 IMG_3820 IMG_3870 IMG_3878 IMG_3905this room had a lot of tables and chairs that they learned at. There was also a church section. Not as good as Notre-Dame but still nice. We practically had this entire place to ourselves. The parking lot had only 8 cars in it. In the summer time there are 3,000 cars and several hundred busses carrying tourists.  HINT: Come to Europe in the Winter!

La Baie du Mt St-Michel - © OT du Mont Saint-Michel

                           FUN FACTS……

The very tip of Mount-Saint-Michel is 157 meters above ground.

During the 1800s in French Revolution when England was occupying France, they tried to invade Mount-Saint-Michel but couldn’t because it had good forces. (the bridge wasn’t there at that time. it was added on for the tourists). During this time Mount-Saint-Michel was used as a fortress and England couldn’t get into it because of the wall, plus they fired cannons at the English ships that tried to invade.

Mount-saint-Michel was built in the 7th century

I really enjoyed going to Mount-Saint-Michel. it was such a small little town and I cant belve people still live here today! I wonder what is was like to live here 500 years ago?

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NORMANDY

Most people know Normandy as the place that D-DAY happened. My famliy and I took a tour here and it was only a 2 hour drive away from Paris. We studied up on it before coming here. We read and watched documentaries about the sites we were visiting.

The picture above shows the where the Allied forces went to help France.

If you don’t know anything about D-DAY here is a quick summery.

Fun Fact:  During World War II Hitler was taking over a lot of countrys in Europe and France was one of them. All the other countrys new that they had to stop Hitler  and the German Army before he could come over to invade the other countrys. Lots of countrys tried to defeat the German Nazis but they were too powerfull.   The allied troops, USA, CANADA, ENGLAND AND THE ANZAC TROOPS OF AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALND got together to form a war strategy to defeat the Germans. They all decided to combined all of their forces together and do one major battle.

All of the allied troops put together there Navy and Airfore to attack the Nazis. this is what it looked liked…

See all the ships and planes flying in to attack the Nazis? There was so many of them! The planes flying above droped bombs on all the Nazis bunkers and sent parracuters down.  The Navy boats fired cannons and other boats let men out onto the beach.

 The men had to swim in there gear to shore, and once they got to the beach, the Nazis fired bullets at them and they had to dodge all the traps laying on the beach. We saw replica’s of what it looked like.
There is a lot of history to D- day and World War II. I think you should research it  on your own to get a better understanding.  We won the battle because all the Allied troops combined forces and worked together to defeat the Germans.  Sadly, America lost over 9,000 soldiers during this time.  They are buried here on the cliff in Land that was given to the USA by France. We visited the cemetery and museum. Very informative. IMG_2456
Our tour took us to the Utah beach and Omaha beach. It is actually a very nice beach and people vacation here in the summer. Its hard to imagine it with traps all over the sand.
I learned a lot about NormIMG_2402andy and D-day and World War II. I even got to go in the bunkers that the Nazis lived in.IMG_2393

 

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POMPIDOU MUSEUM

The pompudu was museum was the worst museum ever!!!!  We all agreed on that.  That might be a bad way to start writing about it but I’m serious! This was some of the artwork that was displayed…IMG_2158 (1)IMG_3726

They had a canvas that was painted all blue!  Some that only had 3 lines going down.  One “Piece” just had black and white lines, another had 3 triangles.  My 3 year old cousins (Jake and Kate) can do better than that. I don’t see how people consider this art. Mom and Dad were mad we wasted 24 Euro’s to enter this place.  Don’t waste your time.  Art is what we saw in the Louvre, and seeing this “so called contemporary art was a let down”

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ARCH OF TRIUMPH

IMG_2365 this is the Arch de Triomph. It was built after the French Revolution to celebrate their victory.  The French  had a big parade through it and France still had parades under it today. Under the Arch of Triumph there is an enternal fire that stays going all through out the year.  It is to represent all those who died for France.

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My thoughts on Paris

I loved Paris. In fact it is one of my favorite cities and France mights be one of my favorite countries. I saw so many cool things here. I learned a lot about history too.

IMG_2374 This is us at a café in Paris with the Arch of Triumph in the back round. There are backery’s ALL over paris and tons of outdoor cafes. I liked the hot chocklot and muffins. My dad liked the croissants and my Mom enjoyed the macoroons. Sawyer ate anything that had suger in it. LOL

Riley’s thought- I read in a lot of books that the French people are very rude. That is just propaganda because they are not. In fact they are very helpful and will always show you directions and enjoy meeting foreigners.

One thing I noticed about the French is that they where a lot of big puffy scarfs in the winter, and they never take their coat off inside. I don’t know why.?

The buildings in Paris are very old, unlike NY city,  there aren’t any sky scrapers and the buildings are always less then 6 storys high. That is one of the reasons I like Paris. IMG_3693

If you would like to email me my email is rileymeckley@yahoo.com     I will get back to you as soon as I can.